Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #57: Skagboys by Irvine Welsh

Number of pages: 548

This is Irvine Welsh's prequel to Trainspotting, which has all of the main characters when they were younger.

As with the original, it seems to have a large number of characters, although this book feels more focused on Mark Renton, and we learn how be gradually became addicted to heroin; inevitably, it features a number of other events that were referenced in Trainspotting, including the death of Renton's younger brother. A lot of Renton's decisions later on seem to be influenced by his relationship with his girlfriend, Fiona.

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Renton breaks up with Fiona in the middle of the book; he later admits that it was because he cheated on her.

The writing style is exactly the same as in Trainspotting, mostly done in first person narrative, with a number of different narrators (again, it is often not obvious who is narrating), and some chapters written in third person. This book is significantly longer; I think the publishers made the font size smaller just so that it would fit into just 548 pages.

Some of the chapters are written in the style of a diary, written by Renton, and also in a typeface that mimicks handwriting; this was quite good for really getting into the character's head, particularly during a long section of the narrative, where...

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Renton ends up in rehab after being arrested for drug possession; this ends up being one of the best sequences in the novel.

The other thing noticeable in this book, particularly near the start, is the political influences; because this is set in the 1980s, there are a lot of references to the effects of Margaret Thatcher's government and how it influences the book's characters.

This was a book I read about, and I was glad I did read it, as it was very enjoyable to revisit these characters, and read about their relationships with each other again. I also have The Blade Artist (about Begbie) to read, and should probably get another copy of Porno, which I read many years ago.

Next book: The Rosie Effect (Graeme Simsion)
Tags: addiction, drama, drugs, grief, period fiction (20th century), politics

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